31st March 1532 – Friar Peto’s Easter Sermon

Mar31,2013 #great matter #Henry VIII
King Ahab

On Easter Sunday 1532, 31st March, Princess Mary’s confessor, Friar William Peto, preached a rather controversial sermon in the King’s presence at Greenwich’s Franciscan chapel.

Instead of focusing on the Easter story and Christ’s resurrection, Peto, who supported Catherine of Aragon, spoke on 1 Kings 22, in which Micaiah shares his prophecies with King Ahab, but Ahab ignores them and imprisons Micaiah. Ahab then died from wounds inflicted during the battle:

“So the King died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there. They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared.”

Peto compared Henry VIII to Ahab, drawing comparisons between Anne Boleyn and Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, who had replaced God’s prophets with pagan priests, as Anne was promoting men of the New Religion. Peto concluded by warning the King that if he carried on the way he was, he would end up like Ahab, and dogs would lick up his blood, too. Peto wanted to set Henry VIII on the right path. He wanted him to abandon Anne Boleyn, with her heretical views, and return to Catherine of Aragon. Henry, however, believed his marriage to Catherine to be invalid, and tried to persuade Peto of that.

Although Peto had preached a dangerous sermon, he escaped with his life and was just imprisoned for a few months. He left England and went into exile.

When Henry VIII’s coffin rested at Syon, on its way to Windsor for burial in February 1547, it is said that some liquid leaked out of it. Of course, this was seen as the fulfilment of Peto’s prophecy.

Taken from my book On This Day in Tudor History.

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